Monday, February 25, 2013

Gown Houses Would Be A Great Band Name

So, the Oscars are over, the fancy gowns are being put back into their fancy gown houses, the winners have finished calling all the people who rejected them in high school, and somewhere someone is clutching a losing office pool cursing the day he put his faith in Robert Dinero to win in a comedy. Also, Anne Hathaway better be clutching an Oscar right now, damnit. Not just because she has the same name as Shakespeare’s wife, and the name of this blog is Bad Shakespeare.

I’ll be pulling the curtain back for just one moment... I was awake for 24 hours watching the Oscars, so I’m going to bed well before the show starts, so this is being written before I know the winners. So I’m going to 1) really hope I don’t have to change that Robert Dinero joke in editing and 2) I would like to congratulate [INSERT NAME OF WINNER HERE] on winning the Oscar for best picture. While watching it, I totally felt that [INSERT NAME OF WINNER HERE] was going to win, despite any jokes I made about it.

However, I’m taking this post to answer a pretty good question: Why? Why did enter a movie theater at 10:00 on Saturday morning and not exit until 9:30 on Sunday, more sensitive to light and now consisting of 20%  more popcorn than when I walked in?

Why not?

I love movies. That much is evident. If I’m watching nine in a row, it’s probably pretty clear. Either that, or I hate them and I enjoy torturing myself.

The other question is why I felt a need to write about it on this blog? Why blog about movies like this?

Because great movies are like literature. They tell a story, they have their own symbols, their own unique ways of telling those stories, and they can be studied the exact same way as books. We study Shakespeare’s plays, which were essentially the movies of back in those days. (I can’t wait to see Quentin Tarintino’s Titus Andronicus. Look it up. That William Shakespeare’s version of a Tarintino movie.)

So why can’t we study movies the same way. Ang Lee’s The Hulk is chalk full of symbolism, subtle moments, and Jekyll and Hyde themes that should be studied and examined, not mocked because it wasn’t superheroy enough. (Although Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk ruled in it’s own way.) It should be studied not just for their film merits, but for their literary merits as well. A good character is a good character, whether written or seen on the screen.

Let’s take one of my favorites of the day, Django Unchained. We find out everything we need to know about King Shultz in the first five minutes of the movie: He hates slavery, he is a businessman, he has a code of honor... all without it being spelled out. There are flashbacks to important moments. Quentin Tarintino did what a good movie should be, he constructed a novel on the screen with many interlocking parts. Of course, because it’s violent and people use naughty language we’re supposed to ignore that. Literature wise, this was probably one of the most well constructed movie-as-a-novel that I’ve seen in a while. 

There was another movie like that called Cashback. This was about a young artist who’s girlfriend breaks up with him and finds that he can stop time. (Which is a metaphor. Or something.) But the construction of the movie is more that of a novel: meeting characters, flashbacks to previous events, narration. (Django uses music to narrate parts of it. And it is fantastic.)

But I do enjoy seeing how different filmmakers want to tell a story. Two movies this year dealt with CIA operations... one more recent, one in the past, both with their own sense of doing what was right in the face of different Odds. Where Zero Dark Thirty took on some of the idea of torture, we also had Argo, also fact based, where one of the characters disobeys direct orders to help people. (Although some of it was added to make it more historically exciting.) Also, I’m not equating the two... I’m comparing two themes. 

Love is was a popular theme as well. Although I didn’t enjoy Amour, I have to acknowledge that both Amour and Silver Linings Playbook deal with love, and what we are willing to do for it. (Again, themes. One dealt with horrible end of life decisions vs. a dance competition and letting go of the past. Themes. Not direct equating.)

But why wouldn’t we acknowledge these themes the same way we would a book? Why wouldn’t we examine the other symbols, the other ideas presented in these movies, like we would any other book? These are just examples. Literature is literature, whether presented by William Shakespeare in a play, or Bradley Cooper dancing.

Just a little something that we need to think about during our post-Oscar’s glow.

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